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Serve this Easy Fried Shrimp as a delicious appetizer or entrée.
On any given day, you’ll find a bag of frozen shrimp in our freezer. We shop the sales, then keep a bag or two on hand, so we can make recipes like this delicious Easy Fried Shrimp at a moment’s notice.
This Easy Fried Shrimp cooks up juicy and tender with a light, flavorful crispy coating. You’ll be tempted to just pop them in your mouth, one after the other – they are so good!
While fresh shrimp (from a reputable seafood market) can be used in this recipe, we often buy frozen shrimp instead. It’s typically flash-frozen shortly after the catch, so frozen shrimp still has a great, fresh-tasting quality after thawing at home.
We bought bags of 16-20 shell-on shrimp – and the term “16-20” refers to the number of shrimp per pound. So, a two-pound bag of 16-20 shrimp should give you between 32 and 40 medium-sized shrimp to cook for this recipe. (The higher the number on the bag, the smaller the shrimp and vice versa.)
Many supermarkets sell already de-veined frozen shrimp – with the outer shell intact, and a small slit cut into the outer arch of the body where they removed the vein of the shrimp. You can buy that for this Easy Fried Shrimp recipe then just peel off the remaining shell.
Buying shell-on shrimp as described above is less expensive and gives us flexibility in terms of preparing other recipes that cook with the shell on – we share the steps to clean the shrimp in the recipe card below.
How to make Easy Fried Shrimp
Most of the time needed for this recipe Easy Fried Shrimp is spent preparing the shrimp – once it’s cleaned and coated, it will only take about five minutes to cook!
If you bought frozen shrimp, thaw your shrimp by placing it in the refrigerator earlier in the day. If you thaw it a day ahead of time, place the shrimp on top of a bowl of ice in the fridge to ensure optimal freshness. Clean the shrimp as needed (more specific instructions are below in the recipe) and remove the tail and shell completely.
About half an hour to an hour before cooking, in a bowl, toss the shrimp in some corn starch – don’t worry if it’s sticky. Let the shrimp sit with the corn starch coating for two minutes.
Then, add more corn starch – the coating should be dry at this point. Spread the corn starch coated shrimp on a flat pan and allow it to sit for thirty to sixty minutes.
While the shrimp sits, prepare the zesty and creamy dipping sauce – a mix of mayonnaise, ketchup, hot sauce, lime juice, onions and capers.
When you’re ready to cook the shrimp, heat a deep, heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron or Dutch oven) or a wok with some vegetable oil to 370 degrees F (use a thermometer like this or this (affiliate links) to ensure you are at the right temp). Then, quickly fry the shrimp in batches – each batch will only take about 90 seconds to cook.
As each batch of your Easy Fried Shrimp comes out of the fryer, place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels – this will allow any excess oil to drain off.
Then, squeeze fresh lime juice over the shrimp before serving with the dipping sauce.
You might enjoy these other shrimp recipes:
- Easy Grilled Shrimp
- Zesty Shrimp Salad
- Bang Bang Shrimp
- Baked Stuffed Shrimp
- Bacon-Wrapped Gulf Shrimp with Blue Cheese Butter and Port Reduction
2 pounds raw shell-on shrimp 16-20 per pound
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup corn starch, divided
Vegetable oil for frying
1 cup mayonnaise
Zest of half a lime
Juice of half a lime (1 tablespoon)
3 tablespoons ketchup
3 tablespoon finely minced sweet onion
Few drops of your favorite hot sauce (we used Cholula)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon drained capers, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons of agave nectar (you can also use honey or sugar, just use less)
¼ teaspoon celery salt
Peel off shells including tail piece. If not already deveined, slice a small slit along the outer arc of the shrimp and pull out the vein. (Most supermarkets sell bags of frozen deveined shrimp with the shell split along the outer arc of the body).
Drain any excess water and toss in a bowl with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and all of the pepper.
Add half of the corn starch and toss with your hands. The shrimp will be sticky. Wash your hands and let the shrimp sit for two minutes.
Add the rest of the corn starch and toss again with your hands. This time, the outside coating will be dry with corn starch.
Lay the shrimp out on a platter or pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes and up to an hour.
While the shrimp sits, make the dipping sauce by whisking all of the ingredients in a small bowl.
In a pan suitable to heat oil such as a wok or cast-iron pan, heat a few inches of vegetable oil to exactly 370 degrees F. This temperature is perfect for nice and moist but crispy shrimp.
Have a pan standing by with paper towels and a medium bowl to place the cooked shrimp into.
Once the oil is at 370 degrees F, quickly add one third of the shrimp, one at a time, and fry for exactly 90 seconds. Remove to the pan with the paper towels with a spider or strainer.
Heat the oil back to 370 degrees F and repeat with another third then finally with the last third once the oil is back to 370 degrees F.
Add all of the cooked shrimp to the bowl and squeeze on about 2-3 teaspoons of fresh lime juice. Taste one shrimp and if needed, toss in some or all of the additional ½ teaspoon of kosher salt.
Serve with the dipping sauce and fresh lime wedges.
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